Using rotated speech to approximate the acoustic mismatch negativity response to speech
The mismatch negativity (MMN) response is influenced by the magnitude of the acoustic difference between standard and deviant, and the response is typically larger to linguistically relevant changes than to linguistically irrelevant changes. Linguistically relevant changes between standard and deviant typically co-occur with differences between the two acoustic signals. It is therefore not straightforward to determine the contribution of each of those two factors to the MMN response. This study investigated whether spectrally rotated speech can be used to determine the impact of the acoustic difference on the MMN response to a combined linguistic and acoustic change between standard and deviant. Changes between rotated vowels elicited an MMN of comparable amplitude to the one elicited by a within-category vowel change, whereas the between-category vowel change resulted in an MMN amplitude of greater magnitude. A change between rotated vowels resulted in an MMN ampltude more similar to that of a within-vowel change than a complex tone change did. This suggests that the MMN amplitude reflecting the acoustic difference between two speech sounds can be well approximated by the MMN amplitude elicited in response to their rotated counterparts, in turn making it possible to estimate the part of the response specific to the linguistic difference.